James Gosling: Sun Is Better Off At Oracle Than At IBM

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The future for Java is an unknown, says its creator James Gosling. But at least Sun Microsystems is owned by a software company – albeit one with a “colourful” reputation

Java creator James Gosling discusses his own future, and that of Java, after the merger between Oracle and Sun Microsystems finally completes. This was his only major interview at what might be the last Sun-led JavaOne event.

In Part One of this interview, Gosling warned that Google’s handling of Java on the Android platform could be heading for trouble, explained the Java Store and discussed various Java platforms in use [Update: Gosling has now announced his departure from Oracle].

Read More: James Gosling has quit Oracle

What’s your sense about the future of Java now that Sun is moving into a new era?
It’s pretty much impossible to say. Assuming the deal closes, it’s now up to Oracle and Ellison [Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle] and that whole crowd. I know pretty much as much as you do.

Any indication from them what they expect from you?

Life as is? Or something else?
There’s no data. Larry in his public statements has been unbelievably supportive. But until the deal closes, the two companies have very limited communication. It’s really funny, we have less communication now. We’re in this sort of quiet period where we can do data dumps to them so they can do some planning, but it’s fairly strictly one way. We are two companies operating independently. At some point there’ll be a magic instant where that changes, but …

Did you have a preference [in terms of suitors], IBM versus Oracle?
If it were between those two, I would certainly prefer Oracle. I used to work for IBM.

What’s the sentiment in the engineering ranks at Sun? Is it a sense of relief, excitement or what?
It’s kind of all of the above. You can find people who feel one way or the other. It’s certainly been a pretty turbulent few years. We felt like we were on a pretty good recovery vector until March of a year ago, when all the banks just went quiet. That kicked the guts out of just about everybody.

I could imagine. But Oracle has a certain reputation, at least from the business side. And it doesn’t seem to have the same culture as Sun. Do you think that that will change?
It’s hard to know. The cultures are different. They kind of are what they are. I’d like to think there’s some chance that we can make a difference, but it’s pretty much unknowable.

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